War does not exempt from the obligation to pay salary arrears
According to the data of the Ministry of Energy, as of December 21, the wage arrears of miners of state-owned coal enterprises amounted to UAH 609.789 million. The lion's share of this amount - UAH 400.277 million - is debts to miners in the Donetsk region. However, as the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, Mykhailo Volynets, rightly noted, the first and second figures given by the Ministry of Energy are in fact far from accurate
After all, the department concerned "forgets" to add to it the dues to the miners of the mines, who stopped coal production as a result of the large-scale offensive of the Russian army. At the same time, it seems that the Energy Ministry will not only reimburse them, but even obliterate them in the reports.
This impression comes from examining the data of the Ministry of Energy. A few days ago, for example, in front of the state enterprise Southern Donbasske No. 1 in Vugledar, Donetsk region, there was simply no data on the debt. And on 21 December, it is clearly marked "0.0 thousand hryvnias". Although the miners of this enterprise have not yet been paid, although they have honestly earned more than 68 million hryvnias.
The situation is similar at another mine in Ugledar, according to Mr S. Surgai. The debt to the employees of this state enterprise amounts to more than UAH 48 million.
The Ministry of Energy also does not take into account UAH 250 million in wage debts to employees of the Krasnolymanska state enterprise, as well as two state enterprises in the Lugansk region - the state enterprise Pervomaiskvugillia - UAH 42.4 million and Lysychanskvugillia JSC - UAH 138 million.
Meanwhile, all these virtually hopeless debts together amount to almost UAH 550 million. Thus, the total actual debt to miners of state-owned coal enterprises now amounts to UAH 1.17 billion, and more than UAH 750 million is owed to miners in the Donetsk region.
"Miners are now working during artillery fire, and risk their lives when they stay in de-energised mines," says Mykhailo Volynets. Some of them have families who have moved abroad or to other safer areas, and some of them live under constant air raids, and each of them and their family members depend on what they have earned. You have to eat, you have to dress, you have to look after yourself... In wartime, there are many unforeseen costs. Unpaid salaries also mean unpaid funds to the social insurance fund, the pension fund, and therefore the impossibility to retire on time. I have no doubt that the industry leaders receive their salaries on time and in full. And how can coal miners survive in these areas? Meanwhile, employees of some companies have not received their income for 2015. Ultimately, the Ministry of Energy should remember the Ukrainian coal miners who continue to work every day, risking their lives, despite the mines being cut off from electricity and the bombings. The war does not exempt them from the obligation to pay back wages. In order to ensure the transition to winter, it is necessary to pay the existing wage arrears in full, to equip the mines in order to at least slow down the decline in coal production and the destruction of the mines, and finally to overcome the corruption in the Ukrainian coal industry. Because winter has just begun. And coal, as a fuel, is priceless. There is not enough of it in the warehouses in Ukraine. All the electric units are not working only because of the bombing, but also because of a shortage of coal. Already today, emergency measures are needed to stabilise the situation and help Ukrainians survive this winter. Because it is really a question of survival. People should not suffer from the powerlessness and irresponsibility of the authorities.
21 December 2022
Published by the KVPU website
Translation Patrick Le Tréhondat